By which Ships are enabled to Sail Faster than they now do in a heavy Sea, &c.

By William Playfair

This Invention consists in placing on the bow of the Ship, or on such part of it as the opposing wave strikes, a shield or waterskreen, between which and the Ship are springs to let it retire back upon the Ship in such a manner, as that the time during which the wave acts is prolonged, and that hard crash prevented that takes place against those Ships which have not such a protection. This shield or skreen is so made, as to be without difficulty placed whenever the wave happens to strike, and changed from that to any other when circumstances require it. The shield is above the water-line when the Ship is in an horizontal position, being only under water when the waves comes, so that it may not impede the sailing of the Vessel, by making it cut the water with more difficulty, when there is no water to oppose it.


It is well known, by the effects of spring carriages, as well as by the resistance that elastic substances give even to the most violent shocks (even cannon shot), that much may be effected by the interposing an elastic substance between two bodies moving in opposite directions, It is well known also, that water is a hard body when striking or struck suddenly, and that prolonging the time of collision diminishes greatly the effect produced by the blow.

The elasticity of the French Vessels, rather than any superiority of form, has for some time been believed to occasion their quick sailing. The well known fact, that Vessels sail faster after they have been strained (if not strained too much), than taken quite stiff from the stocks, also augurs well, and in favour of this invention; of which however, the real utility remains to be proved by experiment; and finally, by putting it in practice.

As the object is immense to a Country like this, the prosperity and safety of which depend on its Naval superiority, there can be little doubt that every justice will be done to this invention, and that if it is found useful it will amply reward the inventor.

Naval Chronicle, Vol. 5 (1801), p 128.

Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius

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Copyright © 1996 Lars Bruzelius.